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Big Tobacco running up big bill to block reforms

Media Release
Rachel Siewert 25 Feb 2011

The Australian Greens say Big Tobacco is continuing a costly and time consuming campaign to block anti-smoking reforms.

Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens Health spokesperson says documents tabled in Senate Estimates reveal the excessive requests under FOI to the Department of Health and Ageing - including detailed requests initially costed at over $1.4 million before taxpayer funded negotiations with Big Tobacco saw this figure reduced to around $360,000. 

“This is Big Tobacco taking up massive departmental resources in order to undermine anti-smoking measures,” Senator Siewert said today. 

“Six people are being employed at taxpayer expense specifically to deal with these tobacco company requests.

“The requests being made by companies such as British American Tobacco Australia and Philip Morris Limited are beyond excessive. 

“Detailed requests originally sought 10,000 separate files of information at a cost of $1.4 million before negotiations saw that figure revised down to 242 files which still contain over 92,000 documents. That request will cost Big Tobacco over $300,000 but this will not meet the costs being laid out by the Department.

“These requests cost the Department money because FOI regulations do not provide for full cost recovery. We are seeing taxpayer money wasted as Big Tobacco continues this campaign against better health outcomes.

“We know that smoking is our largest preventable cause of death and disease and yet the companies profiting from the sale of tobacco are actively engaged in a campaign to undermine the work to reduce this toll.

“This shows exactly how far Big Tobacco is willing to go in order to continue selling their lethal product,” Senator Siewert concluded.

To read the Dept of Health documents tabled during Senate Estimates Click Here.

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